Have you ever been faced with a confounding conundrum, and pondered whether you should laugh or cry? And, upon completion of your deliberation, did you find yourself bursting into a hysterical fit of laughter? Didn’t you feel, even if only for a moment, so much better? 

Comedy, laughter and group bonding can have many positive impacts on your confidence, self-esteem and sense of self-worth. With these factors in mind, Poppyscotland are proud to report that their inaugural Edinburgh Fringe comedy show was a hysterical hit. 

Across four shows, three of which were ticketed, plus one for VIPs and guests, 12 performers took to a stage in Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory for Poppyscotland’s inaugural comedy show, Recovery Through Comedy. 

Each performer was either a veteran or currently serving in the Armed Forces and all had completed a five-day comedy training programme, run by Poppyscotland’s Royal British Legion partners, that aimed to develop comedy writing and performance skills. 

The programme, which culminated in these four shows, used innovative techniques to enhance personal development and build coping mechanisms for anxiety, by putting each performer outside of their comfort zones. 

Before the shows commenced, one performer, Alex Harrison, who joined the Grenadier Guards when he was 16 and subsequently completed tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, spoke of how the programme has had a positive effect on his life. 

He said, “For some strange reason, it’s made me a more stable and chilled person who is generally happier to get up on stage and talk to people.” 

Another performer, Adrian Leslie, served in the Royal Navy and now works for the Royal British Legion. He decided to participate in both the programme and shows due to a decline in personal confidence, caused by the isolating nature of the pandemic. 

Adrian described the programme as “highly demanding, yet enjoyable”, and has been thankful for the lasting camaraderie that his participation has fostered between him and his fellow performers. 

In the weeks leading up to the shows, tickets were coveted, with every show almost selling out three weeks before their commencement.